BA (Honours) Communication & Design


The program in Communication and Design allows students to construct an interdisciplinary major in the arts and humanities that integrates historical investigation, critical analysis and aesthetic practice. Our faculty are committed to engaging students in a conversation as much about the histories and theories of communication and design as about critical contemporary challenges that will define our future.

Core courses offered by the department will introduce students to a range of texts, movements, theorists, artists, designers, filmmakers, and writers from diverse cultures and historical periods, thereby training them in the close, comparative study of different artistic, cultural, and social forms. Studio work will form an essential component of most courses so that students can learn how to build and shape even as they refine their critical sensibilities. Our graduates will be alive to the transformative capacities of communication and design, and will learn to apply their expertise with deliberate care, purpose, and responsibility.

In short, our mission is to matriculate thoughtful and articulate practitioners, students who can exercise sophisticated critical judgment about the work they produce.

What is Communication and Design?

We define both Communication and Design broadly. Design refers to any human practice that requires the thoughtful, methodological, coherent reconstruction or reproduction of our material or mental worlds. Communication refers to any process that transmits, produces, reproduces, structures, embodies, or transforms culture, and that shapes and influences our interpersonal and social behaviors and relationships. Both are fundamentally human activities that bind us to each other and to the societies in which we work and play. And while both emerge from historically grounded expressive practices, these practices, in their most expansive articulation, are mutually interdependent.

Our curriculum embraces inter- and transdisciplinary instruction in the arts and humanities, with a specific focus in communication and design, because we believe no single disciplinary approach makes fully available to thought and practice the rich variety of communication processes and designed worlds we experience, perceive and inhabit today.

How will students benefit by enrolling in this program?

Both communication and design are everywhere. Our cities, our homes, our mobile phones, our furniture, our cars, the books we read, the billboards we drive past, the music we hear, the movies and television programs we watch, the clothes we wear—someone somewhere made a sequence of choices that evolved into these specific products. We are so accustomed, however, to walking through our artificial worlds conversing, communing, texting, arguing, relating, imparting, announcing, reporting, writing, filming, and photographing that more often than not we take the worlds and our actions in them for granted. We are blind and dumb to the very artificialities the serve as foundation and structure for our lives.

In addition to this, both activities (designing, communicating) are interdependent. We rarely separate our perceptions and judgments about design from the meaning these design provoke. And all good authors, advertisers, filmmakers, journalists, and politicians—to name a few professional communicators—know that effective communication depends crucially on deliberate design.

Students who complete a BA (Honours) in Communication and Design will be able to think systematically, critically and complexly about the processes, methods, and social and cultural effects of both communication and design. These abilities coupled with the skills developed and refined through studio practice will teach students how to move methodically from an idea to its material realization.

Degree Requirements

In order to graduate with a BA (Honours) in Communication and Design, students must complete 36 courses. In addition to the eleven courses that comprise Habib University’s Liberal Core, all C&D students must take the following core courses:

AHSS Core (2 Courses)

Development and Social Change
Shaping Modernity: Art and Thought in the 19th Century (required for the class of 2020)

CND Core (5 Courses)

TransDesign Practicum (required for all C&D students)
Elements of Aesthetics (required for all C&D students)
From Runes to Bytes: Media Histories, Theories and Practices I & II (required for the class of 2018; members of the class of 2019 may take this course for elective credit)
Mathematics for Communication and Design (required for the class of 2020)

Interdisciplinary Senior Seminar (1 Course) (required for the class of 2019 and 2020)

Communication and Design Capstone (2 courses) (required for all C&D students)

Electives (15 Courses)

  • 7 C&D
  • 2 SDP
  • 2 Arzu Centre
  • 4 free electives

(For students in the classes of 2018 and 2019, already completed film and design studio courses will count as electives)

Capstone Project

The two-semester capstone project requires students to bring together what they have learned during their time as undergraduates through the creation of an original work in any medium. The final submission will consist of the work itself, a journal that records the process of making from idea to fulfillment, all drafts/sketches/notes, and a 25-30pp critical thesis that situates the work in both an aesthetic and cultural context. Through the written, students have the ability to demonstrate to the faculty a sophisticated understanding of both structures and methods of design and processes and effects of communication.

Upper Level Writing Requirement

All C&D students need to complete an upper level writing requirement. The requirement may be fulfilled through any course, including studio courses. In order to complete the requirement, students must submit an extended research essay, 5000-7000 words, on a subject of their choice related to the substance of the course they select.